A year ago, Jay Butterfield was a sophomore backup quarterback vying for playing time for the Liberty (Brentwood, Calif.) Lions.
“We had a 6-foot-5 senior ahead of him,” head coach Ryan Partridge said to Maize n Brew. He rotated the two some, but after a 35-0 loss to Pittsburg, a change was made.
Butterfield snatched the starting spot and promptly ripped off three straight wins to seize the CIF-Northern California Division I title. Two of those victories came over 2019 Michigan commit Giles Jackson.
The rest, as they say, is history. Butterfield is a borderline 5-star prospect and the face of a Liberty program that’s won 16 straight entering a monster state semifinal against Concord De La Salle.
This level of success is starting to force the now junior to deliberate his future. Partridge infers the major players are Michigan and local favorite Stanford.
“He wore a Stanford jersey growing up,” he said, “but Jim Harbaugh was the coach then.”
David Shaw and the Cardinal have yet to officially offer the No. 45 overall and No. 2 pro-style prospect on the 247Sports composite. While consistent overtures have been made, Shaw perhaps hasn’t offered to ensure another quarterback stays on campus.
“(Stanford) took (2018 4-star) Tanner McGee,” Partridge said, “and he returns from his Mormon mission by the time Jay would arrive.”
While guessing a Stanford offer would be a game-changer, the night game atmosphere for Butterfield’s Wisconsin visit made a sizable impression.
“(Michigan) is a viable option for him,” Partridge said. “The facilities, Pep Hamilton…also, the 100,000 people in the Big House looked really impressive compared to what you get at Stanford.”
“It’s hard to beat the game day atmosphere and the 111,360 (people) at the Big House,” Butterfield said at the time.
Partridge is also the cousin of Michigan safeties/special teams coach Chris Partridge, which doesn’t hurt.
One of the cooler experiences ended up being a quarterback counseling session between Butterfield, his dad Mark (a former Stanford quarterback in the ‘90s), Hamilton, Harbaugh and Partridge.
“We do a sort of top-down progression (at Liberty),” Partridge said. “It was cool to see Pep using similar concepts, and to reinforce them when talking to Jay.”
Hamilton and Harbaugh also offered pointers on ball placement, footwork and improving reads. It was a power session between five passionate football minds.
On top of the extra tutoring and the visit in October, Michigan’s educational prowess is a big deal to the whole Butterfield clan.
“Education is really important to the whole family,” Partridge said, “and Michigan’s the No. 1 public school in the country.”
Butterfield said in October the focus was on this season’s goals. After delaying a sectional playoff game against Clayton Valley Charter for two weeks due to the Northern California fires, his Lions took advantage of the extra prep to win 42-14.
Butterfield went 20-of-26 for 270 yards and three scores on the night.
In order to play for the state championship, he gets a date Saturday against a De La Salle program that hasn’t lost to a Northern California team since 1991.
It’s a stage for a special player to make yet another statement.
By the way, Maize n Brew will be on hand for that one for live scout and postgame interview.